I talk a lot on this blog about making sure you think about your audience and take the time to craft an effective call to action (CTA) in your email that will make them sit up and pay attention. But even if you put time into that, it may not still have the impact you desire if the design of your CTA doesn’t knock the recipient’s socks off!

So how can you make sure you create a CTA with both the content and design required to turn heads and, most importantly, put CTRs through the roof.

  1.  How deep is your call?

Let’s start with the most obvious advice. You need to make sure the CTA is seductively clickable. This may be by dealing with it in slightly different colour tones or giving it additional depth. The classic technique is to give your CTA the appearance of a button to encourage clicks.

But there are lots of other graphical techniques you can use to stand out from the crowd – 3D, shadows or colour filters. Whatever you use, save the best for your CTA.

  1.  Placement

This is more complex a subject than you may think. Often, there’s a temptation to just chuck a big button in the middle of your email. But actually, it depends on the circumstances.

For example, on more regular email newsletters, you may get more success including your CTA somewhere in a sidebar down the right hand side. Or perhaps it works best in the top right hand corner.

All of this will depend on the overall layout and content of your email. For instance, if you’re sending out an invitation then a massive button smack bang in the middle with RSVP will get the job done.

  1.  Quantity

As an extension of point two, you may find there are times where it’s suitable to feature your CTA more than once in an email. You might even have several different calls to action in the same message, e.g. one CTA saying “download this” followed by a second priority one like “share on Linkedin.”

The catch is not to let this snowball – if you have to use two, don’t let it go any further than that and make sure it’s very clear where the priority lies. You may also want to use your design to highlight the difference between the two.

  1.  Testing

There’s one way to know if your approach is working or not. And that’s good old A-B testing. It’s something we’ve blogged about before but in this case, it can really help you narrow down your design and get the best possible results from your CTA.

Once the process is complete, this evolutionary test should mean you end up with the most effective emails around. Remember though, the job is never done. So keep testing!

  1.  When all else fails – images turned off

Any good email marketer understands that no matter how much thought, time, blood, sweat and tears you put into your beautifully designed template, sometimes recipients will want or be forced by their email client to view your message with images turned off. As a result, you’ll also want to consider how your CTA shows up when this happens.

This may be a matter of putting in some nice background colours and rounded corners. Or you could play with fonts and text to make sure the CTA is still clear. If you want to be really ambitious, there’s a great example email from Pizza Express (keep eyes peeled for an Email of the Week on it soon) in which it replaced the photo with an ultra complex table of colours emulating the picture itself. See below for an example.

So whatever you do, make sure your CTA isn’t let down by poor design. And of course, if you ever need advice on the topic, you know where to find me!